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With Due Respect

Overwhelmed with honor and joy

Last Sunday, this space featured the speech of CJ Alexander G. Gesmundo to launch formally “With Due Respect 3.” Today, may I in turn publish a shortened version of my response?

“I AM OVERWHELMED WITH HONOR AND JOY that my dear friend Marixi R. Prieto and her gung-ho daughter, Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, President and CEO of the Inquirer Group, have once again published a compilation of my columns during the last five years into a book and titled it ‘With Due Respect 3.’ Indeed, though I feel unworthy of their kindness, they perpetuate my humble work into books every five years — the first in 2011, the second in 2016, and the third, today…

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“To be completely honest, I did not consider myself capable of writing a column. The plain truth is that I have never written one in my life until after I retired from the judiciary. Though I have had a historical romance with newspapers, having peddled them for many years in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila, to help my impoverished family meet our daily sustenance when I was an elementary and high school student, I have never dreamt of writing a column…

“Thus, I was very hesitant to accept the kind invitation of Marixi to write three times a week … I sincerely thought I was not worthy to be counted among the Inquirer’s esteemed opinion writers … I became even more hesitant after my now deceased guru, Dr. Jovito R. Salonga, told me he didn’t know of any retired chief justice who has written a column. He said, ‘Chief Justices make history; they do not write it.’

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“But Marixi could not be dissuaded. She said, ‘Dr. Salonga may be correct, but I do not know of any retired chief justice who had been offered to write a column.’ Indeed, Marixi convinced me and we compromised that I would write only once a week…

“Consequently, I can truly say that I owe Marixi my opinion-writing career. Indeed, I have written continuously for 15 years from February 2007 up to now, a period longer than my over 11 years in the Supreme Court. During all those 15 years, I wrote every Sunday without fail, despite occasional illnesses, travel abroad about five times a year, and pressing work as an officer, corporate director, or adviser in over 25 companies and foundations.

“I owe her whatever awards or accolades I have received … I owe her the acclaim that the first book, ‘With Due Respect 1,’ received as the third placer in the Amazon bestseller list … topped only by first placer Jeffrey Toobin of CNN, and second placer Antonin Scalia, the revered (now deceased) senior justice of the US Supreme Court…

“I ALSO SINCERELY THANK INCUMBENT CJ ALEXANDER G. GESMUNDO for formally launching ‘With Due Respect 3’ and for his very kind words … At age 65, he could be my son, and I could be his father. Like me, he did not seek his position as the highest magistrate of our country. Without asking for it, he was named to the position by the President. Uncomfortable with public attention, he maintains a very low profile, making public appearances only once in a while…

“I know that he commands the esteem and highest regard of his colleagues who, like me, expect him to lead the Court with passion and dedication. I personally know too that he has an abundance of the four attributes that our Constitution requires of jurists—proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence. In addition, he is also a glutton for work and is determined to solve the perennial backlog of cases that has bedeviled the Court and the judiciary for so many, many years. And being familiar with new technologies, he is ready and eager to automate the judiciary.

“PERMIT ME ALSO TO THANK JV RUFINO, the young and energetic boss of the Inquirer Book Company, for giving special attention to the printing of WDR3, as well as Compañero Sean James Borja who patiently arranged the columns topically instead of chronologically to give readers a better flavor of the various subjects taken up. Sean was the valedictorian of his law class at Ateneo de Manila in 2018 and copped first place in the bar exams of the same year…

“Finally, may I thank the Inquirer editors, especially Jorge Aruta and Rosario Garcellano who have both retired now, and of course Gilbert Cadiz, the incumbent opinion editor, for their patience and prudence in correcting my occasional grammatical errors and my failures to observe the Inquirer style book. May they never tire of teaching this aging jurist the rudiments of the English language and of column-writing.”

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TAGS: Artemio V. Panganiban, column anthology, JV Rufino, Marixii Prieto, With Due Respect
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